N.J. may take over 55 miles of Amtrak corridor

News AASHTO Journal September 22, 2006
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New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine recenlty told Bloomberg News that the state may consider taking over 55 miles of passenger-rail corridor now operated by Amtrak between New York and Trenton, in the interest of reducing delays.

Corzine termed the concept "an idea that is worthy of deep exploration" following a spate of New Jersey Transit service interruptions in the corridor in recent months, caused by power failures or disabled trains along the Northeast Corridor. The full corridor, from Washington, D.C., to Boston, covers 456 miles.

George Warrington, executive director of New Jersey Transit, said other options to address service interruptions also are being explored, and double-deck rail cars are slated to go into service in December to help alleviate congestion on the line.

A May 25 incident stranded nearly 400,000 commuters between Maryland and New York, the Bloomberg reported.

Corzine's remarks were made shortly after the New Jersey Transit board of directors approved a new, six-year operating agreement with Amtrak. The state-based commuter rail line has contracted with Amtrak since 1983 to operate its trains inside the Amtrak corridor.

Amtrak spokeswoman Tracy Connell told the Bloomberg News that Amtrak is working with New Jersey on a six-year, $260 million capital-improvement program to meet growing service demands.

"The governor has a deep appreciation for some of the frustrations we all have about the condition of the Northeast Corridor," said Warrington, "but more importantly, of the historic paralysis in Washington around effectively funding and creating the right kind of model that puts the right level of attention financially and managerially on the northeast corridor."

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